Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 "Foster Friday" Panel Introductions


At long last, "Foster Fridays" has returned!!!  I'm so excited to have put together another great group of women (and a foster dad!) who have been touched by Foster/Adopt Land.  I hope that our thoughts, opinions, and experiences can provide a good support system to each other, help newcomers in the foster/adopt world, and maybe help others not directly affected by foster care gain a better understanding of the system and the special needs of the children who mean so much to us.




Amanda S. - Hi! I’m Amanda, and I live in Virginia with my husband, two foster kids, three cats, two tortoises and a fish. We’d have a boatload of foster kittens, too, if the hubs didn’t limit our fostering to human-only. Something about keeping the crazy to one species at a time? We have been foster parents for almost three years. We have had 7-month-old girl, Monkey, for five months and 4-year-old boy, SuperD, for almost eight months. They are not siblings and are our sixth and seventh placements. Our last babies, sisters A and N, were with us for 13 months and will always be in our hearts and hopefully part of our lives. We are huge believers in supporting birth families through the long and painful process of foster care, and try our hardest to maintain good, positive communication with the family of every child we are lucky enough to care for. I only recently found and joined the foster blogging community and I am very much looking forward to becoming more a part of it! I blog at www.fosteringhopeandlove.blogspot.com.  





Amanda #2 - My name is "Amanda #2."  My husband and I have been married for almost nine years.  We have five cute, ornery kids.  The boys are "S" (almost 7), "J" (5), and "M" (4 months).  The girls are "S" (3) and "R" (almost 2).  We were licensed for foster care in December 2012, but have not had any placements yet.  We are open to kids younger than "S7," especially interested in sibling groups.  I hate knowing sibling groups have had to be split, and we have the space.  We also have decided to look into adopting teen girls.  We believe they deserve a loving, supportive home even after they turn 18.  We have made some inquiries but haven't got much response yet, and obviously are limited to taking every precaution to protect our bio kids.  I am hopeful and excited at the opportunity to love and know whatever children we can!  Hopefully soon!  I'm very impatient.  :-)



Andrea -  Hi there, I am Andrea Anderson.  My family is a lovely patchwork quilt of love.  My husband, John, and I have been married for nearly twelve years.  We were done having children at ages 24.  We had three boys Shane, Jackson, and Samuel.  In 2009 we decided we weren't done after all.  I wanted a girl.  We looked into international adoption and decided it wasn't for us.  That's when we chose foster care.  

We were approved in August 2009 and our first little guy came to our home nine days later.  He stayed with us for ten months and went to live happily with his grandparents.  Our second placement came five weeks later, a girl (!).  She was here just over six months and went to live with her aunt and uncle.  We then decided to take a foster care break.

After a lot of soul searching we decided to adopt from waiting children.  Six months and not a single call back, we opened our home again.  A few days later at 9pm our phone rang for a thirty-five day old boy.  He would change our lives forever.  After a LONG drawn out process (including saying goodbye), he became our forever on February 7, 2013.  He is a thriving 2-year-old boy so full of energy, if I could sell it, we'd all be rich.  During his short "goodbye" we accepted a placement of a special needs little girl.  Our sweet Carlee is two and a half with a long list of medical needs and issues.  She's a gem of a child and I can see her true self just under the surface waiting to break free.  Her case has been to termination and we're just waiting on paperwork to make her legally ours forever.

As a larger family of 11, 9, 7, 2.5, and 2-year-old, we're busy!  Church, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, many specialists and therapies, oh! and we homeschool!  I blog about our journey at www.live-with-laughter.blogspot.com where I try to remember to laugh each and every day.  Our life is crazy, and busy, horribly sad, and overwhelmingly joyful, and I wouldn't have it any other way.




Carly - I am Carly and my husband and I have been married for over eleven years.  We have one biological son who is 9 years old.  We struggled with infertility and after several rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages, we decided to foster and hopefully adopt.  Our plan had always been to eventually adopt as both of us had been touched by adoption as kids.  I have a sister who was adopted as a newborn when I was 18 years old.  We decided to foster for several different reasons, but mostly cause we knew we loved kids and wanted to make an impact.

We were licensed in October 2009.  Our first placement was Miss M at 5 1/2 month in  January 2010.  She was a "likely" adoption placement and we finalized her adoption in August 2010 right after she turned 1.  It was a whirlwind, but such a blessing.  We then took a short break.  I finally convinced my husband that we should foster again and he agreed after we were told it would be a long wait.  On January 26th I sent a note to the SW we were ready again, and on January 31st we got a call about a 3 month old baby girl.  That was at 10am on a Monday morning, and she was in our arms at 3pm.  Baby Charlie's bio-mom and bio-dad relinquished to us in November 2011.  We are in the process of learning the ropes of an open adoption.  We've been doing visits with the biological family since December 2011.  Her adoption was finalized November 2012. 

Our son loves being a big brother, but has requested a boy next time.  We are still undecided on whether we will continue to foster again.  Our SW really want us to "really experience fostering," so we will see.

Follow Carly's journey at http://candcfamily.blogspot.com





Cherub Mamma - I’m a 41 year old mamma to many via marriage, biology, adoption, fostering and just plain loving those around me. I blog (somewhat) anonymously due to regulations with my licensing agency. Technically I’m not supposed to write about fostering on any social media. You can find me at cherubmamma.blogspot.com.

We did foster care for several years when we lived in Iowa. In fact, that’s how Cherub 2 became a part of our permanent family. Then my husband’s job took us on a wild ride all over the US. We’ve landed in DEEP South Texas for now and we’ve been fostering for almost three years (though is seems much longer than that).

We currently have five cherubs in the home. Three are here forever and two are fosters. We’ve had several placements and we’ve done quite a bit of respite care. The little ones with us now have been here for almost two years. Their case is something of a disaster and it is likely that they will leave us at their next court hearing.





Dan Hi, my name is Dan and my wife and I are just beginning our journey in the world of foster care. We have been married for almost six years! While we have been thinking about foster parenting for some time now, it wasn’t until Fall 2012 that we really made the decision. We are both teachers, and at the end of this school year, I will be stepping away from that career and becoming a stay-at-home-dad. We have begun our nine training sessions and will be finished with those in June. From there, we hope to be through the initial certification process by the end of July.


Having no children of our own, as teachers we still get plenty of kid time each day, with hundreds of students -- elementary for her and middle school for me. However, we have often talked about expanding our home family. Through foster care, we get that chance to care for the protection and provision of any child that comes through our door. There is always a need, in all of our communities. Through blogging at fostercaredad.com, I hope to increase awareness on how others can be involved, provide support, and simply share our adventures as new foster parents.




Dani Hi, I'm Dani!  I'm 45 and my partner is 50.  We live in a small town on the eastern most side of Ohio.  We live out in the middle of nowhere, just the way we like it!


My partner and I have been fostering for almost ten months.  We have placement numbers 1, 6, 7, and 8 right now.  We are a foster/adopt family, hoping one day to have a brood of our own.  In addition to our babies, we also watch our neighbor kids most days.  They feel more like ours than our foster babies do, and they love our babies more than they love each other.

We seem to be the family that the agency likes to give the drug babies to.  Maybe it's because I'm a SAHM, but I like to think it's because of my sunny and calm disposition.  At the beginning of the year when we got our newest placement, we had our 6.5 month old and then got 10 day old preemie, drug addicted twins and their 22 month old brother.  

Life is sure busy now, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!




Debbie - I've been married 10 years and a mom for 5. We entered the world of adoption in Oct 2005 and we adopted our daughter via domestic infant adoption in April 2008. We have an open adoption with our daughter's biological mom and family. We are also a Tran racial family. 


Oct 2010 we began the process of becoming licensed foster/adopt parents. We changed states which slowed our process down a lot but eventually we were licensed and welcomed our first placement of two girls in October 2011. We very quickly learned there was a family member that was who the girls should be with and we had the privilege of working along side them and speaking on their behalf at a hearing for them to get custody of the girls almost 5 months later.

Our next chapter began in July 2012 when we welcomed home a one month old baby girl. If there could ever be two cases more completely opposite we have had them. We supervised visits with our girls and their family but it was more like hanging out as friends. Now we had twice weekly visits with our baby's biological mom and we were not to supervise ever. We were counting down the weeks until the next court hearing when out of no where we were told she was leaving to go to a relative placement. We had about 2 weeks of transition before we said goodbye. But in those 6 months we had gotten to know the biological mom enough for her to trust us and know how much we loved her baby girl, so she set up a time for us to see her again. Such a blessing it was. And then we had an overnight visit with her. And then after being gone 6 weeks she came back to us.

And that's where we are today.


Follow Debbie's foster/adopt journey at:  http://alwaysandforeverfamily.blogspot.com/




Dena I’m Dena from Momat40.com and I have been a Florida foster mom for 14 months now.    I have had 8 foster children so far including the Baby Girl that I’ve had for the last 11 months.    I received my first placement on the day that I received my initial license.  It was two adorable girls ages 2 ½ and 7 months.  I instantly became attached to those little sweethearts but they went home to a family member after 6 short weeks.  


After that, I had a break of several months until I received the call about my Baby Girl.  I’ve had her now for just short of a year, so we are currently awaiting a Judicial Review to see if they will change case direction.  After taking her in, I received several calls for other children on a short term basis until October when I received a call about a 10 year old girl.  I had her until last month when she went to live with family members.   

Becoming a MOM at 40 has been a dream come true and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.  As a single mom, I’m lucky to have my parents living close by 6 months out of the year.  The other 6 months, I rely on good babysitters from the daycare to take care of my children when I need to do things after normal daycare hours.  

Foster care has been tough.  No matter how often I tell myself that that there is always another child out there that needs me, it doesn’t make the thought of potentially losing my baby girl any easier.  I am currently awaiting placement of another infant and possibly an older girl.  

Check my blog often for stories about my journey, product reviews and giveaways.  Thanks for reading! 





Julie - Hey! My name is Julie and I am a mother to five beautiful young children! We have been licensed foster and adoptive parents in Arizona for just over three years. We actually attended our initial training class while I was still pregnant with our oldest bio son who will be four soon. We have always had a huge heart for children and early on in our marriage we had decided that foster care would be a part of our lives at some point. We have fostered eight children, adopted one and are hoping to finalize our second later this summer. But, before you get me all wrong – let me tell you: foster care is not all sunshine and roses. It is hard stuff and I wouldn’t trade any of it because I have grown as a wife, mother and friend through these challenges. I have blog over at Our Thrive Life about family, food storage, and preparedness. Each Friday I share an adoption or foster care story of my own or from a guest blogger. I’m excited to be a party of this amazing community of women brought together on Tammy’s blog. 





Karen A. - I'm Karen, 21 years old, and I live in Canada. I am the second of four bio kids. We spent years begging and praying for another baby for our family, but Mom told us "we only borrow other people's babies". Little did she know us kids would find out about fostering and use her own words to convince her to sign the basic paperwork that we had already filled out for her :) 

We opened in May 2011, for one baby under 24 months of age. End of July we got a phone call that a baby would be born that night, would we take her after birth. We brought Piglet home at 36hours, and she was with us for over 10 months. Her return was traumatizing in the way it was handled by the "professionals", but we had developed an amazing relationship with Piglet's parents and continued borrowing her for weekends approximately once a month after she was reunified. She was returned end of May, and end of June a 6wk baby girl, B, was placed with us. She was only with us for 6 weeks, and went to live with Grandma and Mom (Grandma having kinship) at the end of August. We waited until November, and then a two week old baby boy, Savon, joined our family straight out of the NICU- he was born a month premature. He's been with us since then, and we have no idea how long he'll be with us. The goal at this point is still reunification. 

At the end of January, we found out Piglet was back in care. We fought for a month, opened a second baby bed, and finally she moved back into our home about a month ago. We have no idea how long she'll be with us. You can follow our journey as we "love them like we'll have them forever, knowing we probably won't" at www.nuggetsfromthenuthouse.blogspot.com. I'm also a social work student, hoping to go into child welfare- because as the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em- join 'em! 



Karen C. - Hello from the Campbell Clan!  Our family currently lives in Central Florida and consists of Ron and Karen (dad and mom), our two biological daughters Emily (10) and Regan (8), our adopted daughter Kara (2), our foster son "J" (3), and our foster daughter "M" (2).  ("J" came to live with us a week after our family picture was taken.)  

Almost 4 years ago we decided to venture into the world of foster.  We had absolutely no clue what we were getting into and knew no one who was currently a foster parent.  All we did know was that there were a lot of children right in our own backyard who needed a place to call home.  In August 2009 we started the 10 week MAPP training classes.  On December 10, 2009 we got the call we were "officially" licensed and then that same night we got the call for our very first placement.  

In the 3 years we have been licensed we have had 23 placements and have said goodbye to 21 of those placements.  Our shortest placement stayed literally over night and left.  Our longest placement has been 2 years (and counting).  Our daughter Kara was our 12th placement.  She came to us at 15 days old and we finalized her adoption when she was 20 months old.  "J" was our very first placement.  He came to us at 3 weeks old and left us at 8 months old to go live with relatives.  Those relatives eventually started the process to adopt him.  Too many red flags came up and after living with those relatives for 2 1/2 years the state decided to place him in an adoptive placement.  That adoptive placement fell through and 2 weeks later and exactly 3 years and 4 days from the date he initially came to live with us, he was placed back in our home.  We will hopefully be finalizing his adoption sometime in the month of April (hopefully before this is even posted). "M" and Kara are only 4 weeks apart in age.  We got "M" straight from the NICU at 13 days old.  She was our 13th placement and I have to say our most frustrating case.  She is our "2 years and counting" placement.  You can read our blog to catch up on her case and see what we are dealing with right at the moment.





Kylee - My exposure to foster care began at the age of seven, when my parents made the decision to become licensed foster parents. With four biological children, my parents entered into this journey in October of 2000 with no intention of adopting, but simply looking for a practical, tangible, ministry that we could be involved in as a family. Those years of having babies and toddlers come through our home, and learning to care for abused and neglected children were some of the most pivotal, challenging, and vital years of my childhood.

While my parents were not seeking adoption, God had different plans for us; by His grace, he has allowed us to be a forever family to not one child, or two, or three...but to FOUR of the worlds greatest kids! So now here I sit, 19-years-old and big sister to four incredible (often times still-hurting), kids. They are currently 11, 10, 7, and 4, and have all come from different backgrounds and pasts.

I am currently in college and am pursuing a degree in social work, with hopes of staying involved in the foster care/adoption community in some form or fashion. I am passionate about sharing my experience of growing up with foster siblings, chronicling my journey of learning how to be a big sister to children from “hard places”, as well as raising awareness about the orphan crisis. I am also addicted to blogging, and can hardly write fast enough to keep up with this crazy adventure my family is on. You can follow my thoughts on adoption, read stories of bonding and attachment, and listen to me complain about college cafeterias and community bathrooms at learningtoabandon.blogspot.com




Mama C - Hey y’all!  My name is Mama C and I am from the fabulous southern part of our country.  My hubby and I were born and raised here & LOVE it!  We’ve been married almost 8 years and have no biological children.  We tried to conceive for a few years before considering adoption.  Well, long story very short…we knew we wanted to foster to eventually adopt.  We had no clue the amazing journey we were starting…

Since summer 2011, we’ve had 4 placements, all girls. We still have contact with the three that have left us (I KNOW IT’S RARE-WE ARE BLESSED).  We are currently awaiting TPR for the one with us now.  We have the full support of our family and our friends.  All of our babies are a part of our family while they are with us & so far even after they leave us.  I honestly tell people, that while I know we are helping the children, I feel like we gain so much more than they do!  We do plan on continuing to foster even after we eventually adopt. 

I can safely say that foster care has been the craziest, most stressful, happiest, saddest, and most rewarding experience of our lives.  And more thing---if you don’t foster, never say you couldn’t because you would get to attached---trust me people…we are human & get attached, too!!!!  (Sorry, major pet peeve of mine. :-) Also, I don’t have a public blog.  And I chose the picture to represent me because I truly feel like while these children are in our care…we literally hold their hearts in our hands. 




MamaP - Hey, y'all! I'm MamaP, best friend and wife of 10 years to PapaP. Foster care has been a dream of mine since I was 12 and was friends with a foster-adopt family of 27. We discussed and agreed upon it before getting married, but as an "afterthought" to the 3 boys and 1 girl we would have. God has a sense of humor, however, and blessed us with infertility. One biological son, nine foster placements, and two out-of-state foster care pre-adoptive placements later, we've realized that God's plans for us are far more rich and deep than anything we could dream up ourselves.





"Mie" -  Mie - Greetings everyone!  I'm the primary blogger at Letting Go of Mie where I write about my journey through life as a wife, foster mama, employee in corporate America, and new Ph.D. grad.  I've had the pleasure to give birth to a boy, adopt a girl, and along with my husband have fostered 19 other children in 3 years.

Of course, even though I can write that in one sentence the experience hasn't been quite as smooth as it sounds.  We began fostering after learning of severe infertility that amounts to sterility caused by male factor infertility from birth - a.k.a. with a 0% chance of conceiving our biological son is a modern-day miracle.  Our only option to expand our family was to adopt and foster-to-adopt seemed to be the best option for our family.  I write about our journey in part to capture our experience, in part as a therapeutic endeavor, and primarily as a way to share with other foster/adopt parents or prospective foster/adopt parents the realities of the system and how they too can invest in the lives of the children out there who desperately need a stable home to heal.

We're currently waiting for our sweet baby's siblings to join us from a shelter - we've been waiting for 4 months in a case that promises not to disappoint in the difficulty arena.  That being said, our experiences in foster care have taught me that life can be more than I ever imagined, if I'd only learn to let go of myself and trust my Creator..



SocialWrkr24/7 (Eyes Opened Wider) - Hello everyone! I'm SocialWrkr247 - a long time child welfare social worker who is now taking the next step and becoming a foster parent. I've worked with foster children and their families (bio and foster) for almost ten years now. About three years ago I became a Resource Family and have taken in voluntary/temporary placements when families are in a crisis. This experience, as well as some personal life experiences, have lead me to the decision to become a foster parent. I believe strongly in reunification and hope to help some children return to their biological families through my role as a foster parent. I also know that many children can not return home for a variety of reasons. So, I also hope to eventually adopt through foster care. No matter what, I want to form and maintain strong relationships with my foster children's biological families. I think those connections are so important - which is why I've been part of the Open Adoption Bloggers group. (Link: http://openadoptionbloggers.com/ ) Being on the "other side of the fence" as a foster parent has already been an interesting and eye opening experience. I can't wait to experience (and write) about my journey to come!




Yolanda - My name is Yolanda I am a 38 year old single foster mom.  I have been fostering for a year.  I am licensed as a foster to adopt and hoping to have the opportunity to adopt soon.  I foster babies infant to 2.  I decided to do foster care because I love kids and because I wanted to help kids in need.  When I first thought about fostering I did not know that you could legally adopt.  I went to a informal information session on foster care and found tons of information on fostering, foster/adopting and straight adoption.  I knew that I had been placed in this situation at just the right time. I had recently found out that I am not able to have any children of my own and had been mourning the loss of having a kids and a family.   

I truly felt this was the path that God had chosen for me.  So I jumped in head first. In 4 days I researched all the different licensing agencies, interviewed the ones that I was most interested in and chose a license agent.  Once chose my agency they informed me that I would not be able to start my MAPP classes for another 2-3 months because that is when the next class they were offering started.  That was not acceptable to me I was determined to do this now.  So I checked the MAPP training schedules of other agencies and called them to see if I could take their classes and stay with my agency. During my training my license worker gave me a huge packet of all the things that I was required for my license and home study.  I had everything submitted to her by my 5th MAPP class. During that 12 weeks I managed to transform one of my spare bedrooms into baby central.  Got 2 car seats, stroller, everything I needed for my new arrival.   It usually takes at least 6 months to get licensed.  I was licensed in 3 months, I really believe if I hadn't been as persistent it would have taken much longer. 

So here I am a year later.  I have had 3 placements.  A baby girl 4 months old she had the most amazing blue eyes and was one of the biggest babies I have ever seen.  We spent the most amazing 2 months together, she left to go to her great uncle and aunts who are now adopting her.  It was the perfect first placement for me.  A month later my second placement was a 2 day old baby boy.  He was the smallest baby I have ever held 5lbs 13oz.  But from the moment I held him I was in love.  We have been together for 9 months, he is my everything, and my heart is breaking because he is schedule to leave in May. My third placement was a 10 month old baby boy that I took as a emergency placement.  That was the most stressful 3 days of my life. 

All in all I have to say despite the heartaches of falling in love and letting go. It is all worth it.  I love being a mom and giving my all to my kids.  




And last, but not least...  ;-)


Tammy (aka. Mimi) - That would be me!  Single lady with an obnoxiously-spoiled cat, daughter, sister, friend, cool aunt, honorary "mom", honorary "grandma", bio mom to none, but foster mom (aka. "Mimi") to seven kiddos and counting over the past 4 1/2 years...

After struggling with endometriosis for most of my adult life, I made the decision to have a hysterectomy at the age of 30.  Finally pain-free after 12 years, I knew that I had made the best decision possible even though it meant that I would never be able to carry a child of my own.  I spent the next 4 years trying to find a way to become the mom that I always wanted to be.

The idea of fostering always terrified me.  I couldn't bear thought of losing a child who I loved as my own, but this little voice kept telling me that this was something that I could do to make a difference.  I went into foster care after many, many prayerful years.  I finally began to trust that God wouldn't have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated, so I threw myself into loving these kids with my whole heart.  I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until I began this journey.  But I can feel the change within me as more and more time goes on, and I know that can only be His promise to heal the hurt as I love these kids and let them go.  With each child who comes into and out of my life, I've found that I have a stronger sense of peace, a more compassionate heart, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find.

One thing I do know is that God is healing my heart beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible.  Yes, it does hurt when my children leave my home and my arms, but His promise to heal that hurt has proven true time and time again.  And after every healing, I find myself more and more excited and filled with the anticipation of loving another one of these children who so desperately need me for however long I'm blessed to have them in my life.

Most days I think "I Must Be Trippin'" when I talk about all of the craziness that is Foster/Adopt Land in one breath, and how much I LOVE MY LIFE in the next. Because I DO love my life, and I wouldn't change a thing.


3 comments:

Foster Dad said...

Thank you for hosting the panel. I am excited that I can participate. More important though, I believe I will be able to learn a lot through the process of sharing and collaboration, here.

Laura said...

It's nice to meet everyone and hear your life stories! I look forward to panel entries!

Amanda Davisson said...

Thanks so much for introducing everyone! It was neat to hear the stories of people from the facebook group also!

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